Downdrift: A Novel

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If you are expecting a somber treatise on biological imperative or something wrapping itself in the surreal for explicitly comic effect, then you will be both satisfied and disappointed by Joanna Drucker’s novel Downdrift. Readers are given nothing less than a musing about the natural world where humanity has impact but is intentionally absent. Drucker’s narrative voice is that of Archaeon, a single-cell mircroorganism nearly 4 billion years old, a single, collective voice due to the fact it makes up an entire domain of life as we know it, telling a peculiar story that exists everywhere at once. It is a bold narrative decision and stunningly effective.

The Archaeon narrates the effect of “downdrift, the seepage of traits across species” as Drucker creates a delightful menagerie of incongruous evolution at once banal and sensible as well as haunting and ominous. Perhaps the most conventional portion of the novel for readers to grasp onto is the story of two cats—Callie, a Boston housecat, and a lion trekking across an African savanna—each unwittingly searching the other out as more and more animals take on human traits. Make no mistake, the animals remain animals, but soon master human acts like unionizing but struggle (except for sloths) with the concept of privacy. Here is where Drucker’s humor lives, in the intersection of the uncanny and silly-making, her prose playful but keenly literary.

Downdrift pushes to erase the distinction between natural and artificial acts and, therefore, Being.


Reviewed By:

Author Johanna Drucker
Star Count 4/5
Format Trade
Page Count 256 pages
Publisher Three Rooms Press
Publish Date 2018-Apr-10
ISBN 9781941110614
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue October 2018
Category Science Fiction & Fantasy
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1 review for Downdrift: A Novel

  1. Rated 5 out of 5

    Irene Geo

    You got me at having an Archaeon as narrator. Wow! Great writing from a poet/philosopher who has just expanded the way a story can be told.

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